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Friday
Aug262011

Round the Sphere Again: Timely

Paul Against Jesus
Because we were discussing it earlier, here’s a different but complementary response to those who think Paul’s gospel contradicts Jesus’s gospel (Kevin De Young).

Storm Watch
Governors on the east coast of the United States have declared states of emergency in anticipation of Hurricane Irene. Do you know what does it mean to declare “a state of emergency” and the reasons for doing it (mental_floss Blog)?

And here’s striking video of another storm, Wednesday’s thunderstorm in Toronto. 

Lightning TO from Jon Simonassi on Vimeo.

Thursday
Aug252011

Thankful Thursday

 

I’m thankful that God is in control of everything and that he can be trusted. I’m thankful that his timing is perfect. I’m thankful that God cares for his saints and that he “hems them in, behind and before.”

I’m thankful that Jesus willingly died for our sins. 

I’m also thanking God for an afternoon without promise of rain (finally!) so I could make good progress staining the railings on the back deck. While I’m at it, I’m thanking him that I have a home with a deck to stain.

And I’m thankful for supper’s salad made with grilled chicken and greens and vegetables from the garden.

Throughout this year I’m planning to post a few thoughts of thanksgiving each Thursday along with Kim at the Upward Call and others.

Thursday
Aug252011

The Cross of Christ: Why Did Christ Die?  

This week’s reading for Reading Classics Together at Challies.com was the second chapter of John Stott’s The Cross of Christ, Why Did Christ Die? In a nutshell, Stott says the same thing as Peter does in Acts 4:27-28

…for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 

Stott, of course, goes into more detail than that, explaining exactly who bears the blame (and why) for Jesus’ death on the cross. There are

  • the Roman soldiers 
  • Pilate
  • the Jewish people
  • the Jewish leaders
  • Judas

And this list should include be me, too. 

[W]e ourselves are also guilty. If we were in their place, we would have done what they did. Indeed, we have done it. For whenever we turn away from Christ, we “are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Heb. 6:6)…. [T]here is blood on our hand. Before we can begin to see the cross as  something done by us (leading us to faith and worship), we have to see it as something done by us (leading us to repentance).

Yet it’s not really as simple as that. Yes, Jesus’s death was caused by human sin and we all share the blame for it, but there’s another way to see it, too. Jesus gave himself up for us; he died voluntarily and according to God’s plan. Stott writes:

On the human level, Judas gave him up to the priests, who gave him up to Pilate, who gave him up to the soldiers, who crucified him. But on the divine level, the Father gave him up, and he gave himself up, to die for us. As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, “I did it, my sins sent him there,” and “He did it, his love took him there.”

And it’s at this second way of looking at the cross that the next chapter will examine. What makes the crucifixion so important that God planned it and Christ voluntarily submitted to it?

Wednesday
Aug242011

A Pauline Parallel in the Parable

From 40 Questions About Christians and Biblical Law, by Thomas R. Schreiner, in the answer to the question, “Does the Pauline teaching on justification contradict Jesus’ message?”

The parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector clearly functions as an antecedent for Paul’s theology of justification (Luke 18:9-14). The Pharisee was convinced that God was pleased with him because of his devotion to the law, which went beyond what was expected. He expected to be justified because of his moral excellence, which elevated the Pharisee far above the tax collector. The tax collector, however, was deeply conscious of his sins and pled with God to have mercy on him as a sinner. And it was the tax collector who “went down to his house justified” (Luke 18:14) rather than the Pharisee. Those who trusted in themselves that they were righteous (Luke 18:9) are condemned. Those who exalt themselves are humbled (Luke 18:14). The only pathway to justification is to follow the example of the tax collector in saying, “God, be merciful to me, as sinner” (Luke 18:13). It is hard to imagine a closer parallel to the Pauline teaching on justification.

And there is much more evidence in the gospels to show that Jesus

emphasized that life comes from putting one’s faith in him, that human beings are spiritually impoverished, and that life comes from believing in Jesus rather than working for God. Hence, it is not too bold to conclude that Paul derived his message of justification from the historical Jesus.

Wednesday
Aug242011

Round the Sphere Again: Curiousities

Unsolved History
An intriguing sixty-year-old cold case from Australia:

What we can say is that the clues in the Somerton Beach mystery (or the enigma of the “Unknown Man,” as it is known Down Under) add up to one of the world’s most perplexing cold cases. It may be the most mysterious of them all.

(Past Imperfect at Smithsonian.com)

Paper Peculiarity
Why Bible readers might need cigarette smokers (Bible Design Blog).